PLUNKETT, Donald Lanier "Don"
Donald Lanier 'Don" Plunkett of Sandy Springs, GA, beloved husband of 51 years to Joan Hamill Plunkett, was promoted to Glory on 25 January 2023, after a courageous battle with cancer.
Don was born in Piedmont Hospital on 17 September 1942, the oldest son of the late Harold Lanier Plunkett and Dorothy Evans Plunkett. He was a true son of this city, a sixth generation Atlantan. His great-great uncle, Col. William A. Hemphill, was one of the three founders of the Atlanta Constitution and Mayor of Atlanta from 1891-1893. Don grew up in Grant Park. As a boy worked at Piedmont Park, and had a colorful family history surrounding Peachtree Street.
Don was a graduate of W. F. Slaton School and Roosevelt High School, Class of 1960, where he excelled in football and track. He served as senior class Secretary and was voted "Friendliest" by his classmates. Don and his identical twin, Ron, graduated in 1964 from The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina. Their legendary exploits, preserved by their friend, Southern writer Pat Conroy, earned them the superlative "Most Humorous." In May of 1964, Don was commissioned in the US Army Corps of Engineers where he served in Fort Belvoir, VA, Fort Benning, GA, Naha, Okinawa, and as Headquarters Commandant of the 169th Engineer Battalion (Construction) in the Republic of Vietnam.
Upon completion of his military service, Don joined the Sinclair Oil Company in district sales, followed by a 55-year career as a commercial real estate developer and owner of the billboard company, Peachtree Outdoor Advertising. He founded Plunkett Commercial Properties in 1972, and served as President until his death.
Following in the footsteps of his grandfather William "Sarge" Plunkett, Superintendent of the Atlanta Joint Terminals, Don had a passion for trains. He was one of the owners of the Pullman Yard and helped create the New Georgia Railroad. Also in keeping with family tradition, he had a dapper sense of style. In 1987 he was voted Best Dressed Man in Atlanta by AJC writer Ron Hudspeth for his bold and colorful collection of madras.
Don suffered cardiac arrest on 4 July 2001, while running the Peachtree Road Race. Through the prayers and immediate medical action of other runners, God mercifully gave Don a second round of life, which he lived to the fullest with a grateful heart. His family received those 22 years as a gift. During that time, he celebrated life with his 13 beloved grandchildren, who absolutely adored their "Pop."
Don never met a stranger and was a valued friend to thousands of people from every walk of life. Devoted to his family, he was thankful for the time and fellowship with his children, Brittany P. White (husband, John and children, Elizabeth, Hannah, Rebekah, Moses, Noah, Ruth, and Sarah of Deep Gap, NC); Donald L. Plunkett, Jr. (wife, Michelle and children, Austin, Hawk, and Colt of Paradise Valley, AZ); and Bethany P. Weisser (husband, Frank and children, Kendall, Ben, and Caroline of Clayton, GA). Don is also survived by his brothers, his twin, Ron (wife, Linda, Charleston, SC), and Mark (wife, Gretchen, Alpharetta, GA); many nieces and nephews; and his Evans' and Reese cousins.
Don's Christian faith was evident in the way he lived; he went out of his way to help and serve others. He was a founding member of the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans' Business Association (AVVBA). Holy Innocents' Episcopal Church was also a large part of Don's life, where he served as Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 406 for many years and received various accolades, including one of the highest volunteer awards in Scouting, The Silver Beaver.
Don had a wonderful sense of humor, loved to read, and was an avid WWII historian. He passed his love of history on to his children and grandchildren. He loved his family through his actions spending countless hours over the years watching tennis matches, banjo concerts, puppet shows, and a wide variety of other off-Broadway "entertainment" provided by his children and grandchildren. He taught them cheerfulness, generosity, and humility; he was a true Southern gentleman.
A celebration of Don's remarkable life will be held at Holy Innocents' Episcopal Church on February 11, 2023 at 11 AM. Reception to follow.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Holy Innocents' Church Music Ministry, 805 Mount Vernon Highway, Atlanta, GA 30327; or the Johnson Hagood Stadium Enhancement Fund c/o The Citadel Foundation, 171 Moultrie Street, Charleston, SC 29409-6230.
Don was grateful to all the caregivers who helped him in his fight with cancer. To them and everyone, he would say, "Remember me with smiles and laughter. That's the way I'll remember you."
Funeral Home Information
H.M. Patterson & Son-Arlington Chapel
Credit: Jess Rapfogel/AP